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Arizona AG leads effort to contest Biden reversal of Trump-era EPA regulation

“While the Biden Administration talks a lot about preserving clean air and water for future generations, they have failed to ensure clean drinking water for our children now,” Mark Brnovich alleges.

Updated: August 4, 2021 - 12:14am

Attorney General Mark Brnovich is leading a coalition of attorneys general in filing a petition challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s “Delay Rule,” which postponed the Trump Administration’s Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR).

“While the Biden Administration talks a lot about preserving clean air and water for future generations, they have failed to ensure clean drinking water for our children now,” Brnovich said in a news release on Friday.

The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) said that the LCCR would have strengthened protections against lead and copper in drinking water. The news release read that lead exposure can permanently damage children’s brains, leading to developmental and behavioral issues.

The AGO said that in January 2021, the EPA finalized regulations that would have enacted stricter protections against lead under the Safe Water Drinking Act. When exceeded, the LCRR would have imposed a new “trigger level” that would have “require[d] public water systems to initiate actions to decrease their lead levels and take proactive steps to remove lead from the distribution system.” However, the Biden Administration delayed the effective date from March 15 to June 17, before the LCRR took effect, and then again to December 16. In addition, the EPA has not released a replacement for the LCRR, so a third delay is expected.

The AGO referenced the Flint Water Crisis beginning in 2014 to demonstrate the danger of lead in drinking water.

Brnovich and the attorneys general of Louisiana, Ohio, Texas, and Oklahoma argue that the “Delay Rule” is unlawful because they believe that it will result in “adverse health effects that exceed the reduced costs on water system operators,” and marks an “illegal attempt to kill the LCRR through serial delays, rather than following the necessary procedures for an outright repeal.”

Supporters of the rule say that the Trump-era LCCR exposed millions to toxic lead in drinking water.

“The EPA review of the wholly ineffective Lead and Copper rule is welcome, but we have a long way to go to carry out President Biden's promise to pull 100 percent of the nation’s lead pipes out of the ground,” Erik D. Olson, Senior Strategic Director for Health with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said. “Lead was taken out of gas and paint in the ‘70s; it’s long past time to get this notorious poison out of our water, starting with communities of color that are disproportionately exposed to lead.”

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